John Furniss is an exceptional man. The 32-year-old from Vancouver, Wash., is one of the few piano technicians who rebuild pianos, in addition to tuning them. What makes this even more remarkable is that Furniss is entirely blind.
At age 16, Furniss survived a suicide attempt, but was left sightless, according to KGW. He turned his life around -- discovering a passion for rebuilding pianos in the process.
Furniss moved to Vancouver to attend the Emil Fries School of Piano Technology for the Blind after he was unable to find employment in the woodworking industry in Utah, according to the Vancouver Vector.
"People love their pianos. When they sit down and play and when it sounds so beautiful and nice, that is like gold to me," he told KGW.
While enrolled in the School of Piano Technology for the Blind, Furniss found a mentor in Rick Patten, a piano rebuilder who designs tools specifically for blind technicians. Patten told KGW that Furniss has proven critics wrong by showing that a blind man can be a successful technician.
"I wouldn't be where I am without Rick," Furniss told KGW.
As Patten prepares to retire, Furniss hopes to fill his mentor's shoes. With his partner Anni Becker, Furniss is trying to raise $15,000 through an Indiegogo campaign in order to purchase Patten's piano repair shop from him. According to the Indiegogo video, Furniss has successfully repaired four major pianos under Patten's guidance over the last year.
Furniss belongs to an elite group of blind technicians, and despite the challenges of his profession, he remains optimistic.
"I'm totally blind," Furniss said to KGW. "But if you put your mind to something, you can do what you want to do."
You can support Furniss' cause here. Donations will help purchase both Patten's piano shop and his custom-made tools.